postal strike

Being on the ball is important. It’s better to be proactive than reactive, of course, but when you can’t see the big picture because you are so wrapped up in the plan, that’s a bad thing. Some things can’t be predicted, and reacting to them quickly can earn you an advantage over your competitors from which they may never recover. Speed of thought is important, but we also have to be organised to react. What a shame it would be for an opportunity arise, or to have an idea, only for us to realise that it would just be too much of an administrative nightmare to implement.

TX Maxx, among others, have responded to the UK postal strike by offering DHL delivery for the same price as their normal service.. Lucky DHL. But well done TX Maxx for being on the ball, and turning a problem into an opportunity.



Imagine That

October 29, 2009

wimax google it

I’ve recently been wondering about upgrading my Broadband connection. I currently surf using an O2 mobile broadband dongle that hangs from the side of my laptop. Sometimes it’s my friend; it streams video, downloads at a comfortable speed. Other times, I find myself attaching the extendable chord and trying to position the dongle at whatever awkward angle it will pick up reception. I’ve had discussions around work about it, and fellow mobile broadband owners suffer similar problems. I was in the middle of considering switching to NTL, going on recommendations from my colleagues. But then I was confronted with the recent launch of Wimax, from Imagine Ireland.

I’ve been waiting for months/ years for this to happen. The rusty laptop I work on, and bought 5 years ago, came with an airport card. Its use has been minimal, since I rarely carry it with me to bars and restaurants.

The campaign reads:


“Google it”

Firstly the creative on this reads wrong to me…surely Wimax is the word that should be in quotation marks, while “Google it” is the call to action. On their own facebook page in response to some annoyed customers wanting clarification about pricing Wimax replied.
“…our current outdoor poster campaign (hope you have seen it) – is a clear call to action as to what is ‘WiMax’ (Google It)”

They correct the grammar error themselves.

Secondly, googling Wimax returns a disappointing amount of information about the service. I’m not the only person getting frustrated with this lack of information, a quick look at Facebook show’s a rather irate public (See below).

wimax facebookWhen directed to the Wimax webpage, hosted by Imagine, you are provided with vague information with how much faster and cheaper the new service will be. However exact pricing and plans is not available. According to an Imagine spokesperson they “will announce in the next coming days, both our product packages and our pricing – and of course this will be accompanied by our full terms and conditions. To be 100% clear, we have nothing to hide, we just want to get the right products and packages to suit consumer demand.” This statement was to calm the stream of comments from Facebook fans to replace the vague information with actual costs.

The Media launch screams of prematurity! In the excitement to cause some PR pre Wimax release, they may have caused more damage. While the campaign has caused a lot of interest, the public feedback has been negative because of the lack of information accompanying it. Paul Diskin commented on their facebook homepage that:

“If the advertisement of this service with full media coverage was delayed until the finer points with regard to products , speed and pricing were agreed, don’t you think that there would be more people accepting the service.”

Their campaign was to act as a teaser, get people excited about what’s to come. Instead it acted as a catalyst, to launch complaints, from an extremely price sensitive public. Competition in the broadband sector, and a service like the one Imagine are ‘proposing’ to offer is badly needed in this country, but from a media buyers perspective their campaign launch seemed like a warning to all marketers of the dangers of playing with the public.


how to lie with statistics

A couple of months ago, the guys over at Socialnomics were talking about a TV campaign developed by an airplane manufacturer in the States, and pointed out that TV might not have been the best medium for this, given the very few people involved in purchasing airplanes. It came up again in conversation recently, and it got me thinking about what might have driven this choice, and the way we use numbers when doing our jobs.

Statistics play a huge role for us, but they can be misleading, particularly when people aren’t used to interpreting them (I’m reminded of this every time I hear a news headline saying ‘prices have fallen this quarter; the rate of inflation has dropped by 2%’).

Saying, for example, that “If you go on TV, ‘100% of your audience will see this ad” is all well and good, but what if your audience is 5 people? Suddenly a TV ad doesn’t seem the right way to go. If you really want them to see your 30” spot, go into their office with a projector – it’s cheaper, it adds a personal touch, and it allows for two- way communication to boot. If readership of a newspaper doubles in a year, that could simply mean that now eight people are reading it, instead of four. That’s not a success story.

Statistics mean nothing without context; every time we take in a statistic, we have to ask ourselves: Where did it come from? Who generated it? Are they independent or are there vested interests? What question did they ask and of whom did they ask it? How big was the sample? There are some statistics we believe without question, but there are plenty we shouldn’t.




I’m going to jump on the band wagon and write a post about the X Factor. You can’t escape it these days. Every newspaper, even the highest of brow, has either a dedicated columnist or daily/weekly editorial – even the Irish Times!  

You search it in google and there are 57.5 million links! On twitter, there is a new comment every mille second. Every time I log into facebook, some one has updated their status with a new X factor related comment… (and I log on pretty often).

Winter is in the air, and X factor has started to permeate our lives, (even more than last year). All across the UK and Ireland, it is conversation spinner genius. Yay, we don’t have to talk about the weather, or the depressing state of the economy, or the Lisbon Treaty, or the way the Christmas advertising has started too early this year. It is escapism and excitement at its very best.

Now on to what I really want to talk about – John and Edward (aka Jedward). What a pair. Originally, I was disgusted. How embarrassing are these guys? What are they doing for the image of Ireland and its people? What with Louis Walsh and these high haired clowns, the population of the UK must think we are a pack of feckin eejits.

Then on Saturday night, my mind changed. I started to like them. I cried with laughter for the full 3 minutes of their rendition of Britney Spears ‘Oops I did it Again.’ I’m not the type of person who votes for these kind of things, but if the option was there, I’m pretty sure I would show my support for them. There is no sob story, they are rubbish singers, but god are they pure comedy to watch.  

And now, the Grafton Barber Chain is inundated with requests for the ‘Jedward’ a sky-high platinum blond hairstyle. Read about it here! It’s the ‘Rachel’ for men. I can’t believe it.

The X Factor is the high point of my Winter  – talkability factor 10 out of 10. If you want to create your own ‘Jedward’ click on Edwards pre-do photo….Halloween costume idea?




OMD have just finished putting together a piece of consumer insight called “Evolution of the Consumer” (see plug below*). One of the most interesting findings, was the accelerating influence of the internet, which inadvertantly seeped through into almost every single macro-trend we looked at.

In exploring how Irish people’s lives and lifestyles have evolved over the last 12 months, we found that the numbers who are shopping and swapping, researching and reviewing, watching and downloading, communicating and networking – using the internet – are all on the up. When we asked our participants where they go for information, across a range wide of  purchase categories, the internet came out on top for Food & Nutrition, Mobiles & Electronics, Motors, Entertainment Content and came out as the second most important source for Household products, Groceries, Healthcare, Cosmetics and Fashion.

The internet is still an unknown quantity for many Irish marketers. With so many people now “online”, we know our brands should be there, but we’re not sure how to get there and we’re not sure if we really belong there.  I think that part of the problem is our paradigm.

We are thinking of “the internet” as a medium, in the same way we think about other media channels TV, Radio, Cinema, Print, Outdoor. Whereas in fact, it’s probably much more accurate to think of “the internet” as a parallel virtual world. This parallel world has all the same things as the real world. It has TV – short form clips, long form episodes and films, user generated content. It has Radio – podcasts, audioclips, live music streaming. It has Outdoor – skyscapers, islands and banners. It has Newspapers – editorial content, forums and blogs. It has Word of Mouth which races across neighbourhood fences. It has shops where you can buy things. There are social places to meet up with friends, communication devices to keep in touch with family and pickup bars to find love.

Using internet as a conduit to your customers isn’t just about advertising or sponsorship, the most prevalent models in other media. Online is about search, content, conversations, response, reputation, editorial – and about a million different things which I don’t know yet and haven’t been developed yet. We need to shift the paradigm through which we see, and talk about, online. The internet is not a new medium, it’s a new world.


*Evolution of the Consumer is an Omnicom Media Group consumer insight project which explores what Irish people are currently thinking and doing, and the implications this has for our clients’ brands for 2009/2010. We worked with leading consumer trend forecaster William Higham, to define the key consumer trends going into 2010, based on behaviours which are globally prevalent.  He defined 8 key macro-trends, which we surveyed locally using Snapshots, our online research tool: Cautious Spending, Bye Bye Bling, Smart Shoppers, Temporary Ownership, Cult of Home, Free, Selfish Green, Trust & Transparency.

If you’d like to find out more, or get a copy of the presentation, email

Community spirit

October 6, 2009

Arthurs daySat in a pub in West Cork last weekend, I became involved in a conversation between my friend’s Uncle, Jack, and the lovely bar maid, Pat. Clonakilty had just recently won a county football final and was later that day going to compete for the West County Cup (which they lost, admittedly I’m a bit indifferent to GAA and not being from Cork the event was lost on me). Pat had decked the pub out with a Banner for the local team, which had been painted back in 1996. She was excited with the way the community was rallying behind the team, ‘this is what the town needed’, she said, ‘Something to motivate people to get behind each other again’.

 A recent surge of advertising campaigns have heralded a similar sense of community. Love Irish food, has brought together more than 30 of the Irish foods sectors major brands in attempt to boost sales on home produced food brands. Denny recently launched their ‘Home is…’ campaign….getting us to submit heart felt material for their next advertising campaign. They’re rolling 8 pop-up homes around the country to highlight the value of ‘The Home’ and to educate people about The Simon Community.

 Guinness hosted the largest community get together on September the 25th, when Ireland and the rest of the world celebrated Arthur’s 250th anniversary with a pint of the Black stuff. The event was broadcast worldwide and celebrated in several other cities. It felt like an extremely well orchestrated musical St. Patrick’s day without the parade.

 Our wage slips might be dwindling but maybe encouraging appreciation for what we have is exactly what’s needed at the moment!


October 6, 2009


I feel like summer has quickly turned to winter since my last blog post. The leaves were quickly blown off the trees, its getting dark before half seven, and I think it’s the first time in my life that I can say (or think to myself) ‘I don’t mind!’ I’m a summer kind of gal – I like the sunshine, swimming in the sea etc, and normally a kind of muted depression sweeps over me when I feel the first chill of winter in the air.

This year it’s different – I don’t know why that is, but suddenly I’m appreciating being inside, wearing boots and tights, cooking warm wintery meals, watching the X Factor and the Apprentice…

….and the city lights of Dublin out my window are the warmth and atmosphere to these comforts.

Filmmaker Ian Cheney  has a new film coming out called ‘The City Dark’. In this picture, he looks at light pollution in New York City, and how night-time and darkness are non existent in big cities. He asks: why do we need the night anymore? He also looks at the energy crisis and what effect night-time city lights are having on this.

Obviously, it’s a given that a city will be lit up at night but I imagine that it will be disturbing to see how much damage this is doing to our planet when the film is released.

When it comes to media planning, I think the opportunity of winter and city lighting is underestimated by marketers. Many clients are of the opinion that it’s better to go the outdoor route in summer but I think if sites are properly illuminated winter wins hands down. See effective winter campaigns here.

Irish weather is wintery from September – April, i.e. 8 months of the year, two thirds!! So I think it’s about time we use city light creatively and expand the possibilities of this arena. I’m convinced it could produce some really beautiful  and eye catching formats. (and photgraph really well on top of that… )


The Chicken and the Egg

October 2, 2009

chicken-or-eggWhich comes first, the chicken or the egg? You’re kidding!!! I’m not the first to wonder? OK, so most agree that the answer is the egg; the egg was born to an animal of another species (genetically close to a chicken, but not quite a chicken), and woke up as a chicken. Ok, I’m oversimplifying…….. and I’m about to do it again, but it’s sort of like ideas. Bear with me.

I have an idea; I know it’s sort of weak and still very much in its infancy. I have no idea how it would actually be implemented, but I have this inescapable feeling that I’m really getting somewhere with it. But still, it’s not well formed, not really explainable in any way that will make anyone go “WOW!” I’m a bit stuck, so, for fear of looking stupid, I’m keeping it to myself.

Last month Beth Harte wrote  how she’s waving a white flag and reevaluating her blogging habit. She said, “I have SO many thoughts rattling around in my head but the pressure to make them perfect stops me from writing them down”. That makes me sad, and it makes me wonder how much brainpower is being wasted by people sitting on imperfect thoughts.

An imperfect thought is like the sort- of- but- not- quite- a- chicken- type animal. It’s something, but it’s not quite the thing we’re after. We’re looking for a chicken. But what this not- quite- a- chicken- type animal can do is give birth to something else, an altogether new animal (a chicken!!!), which is exactly what we’re after. So how do we get our chicken?

Well, how does anything get born? Apart from a few exceptions, you need another element to join in and help the process along. So if you have an idea that’s half baked, why not share it and see if someone else can give you a hand in finishing it off? We all agree that brainstorming can create some fantastic ideas but the principles of brainstorming aren’t typically applied in the day-to-day. Too often, brainstorming comes with capital B.


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